08 August 2021

Review: William & Kate, A Royal 10 Years

When Historic Newspapers asked me to review their book commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge earlier this year, I didn't really know what to expect, but it certainly wasn't the incredible book I received. William & Kate: A Royal 10 Years is simply a treasure trove for followers of the royal couple. Having used clipping services before, I guess I thought I would get bits and pieces of newspaper clippings jammed together in a kind of scrapbook. I definitely wasn't expecting to receive full pages from historic papers -- including the ads and other items that might have appeared next to the royal articles. Those bits of "extra" will only grow more valuable and entertaining as even more time passes. Add to that the beautiful binding and this book is a real addition for any royal watcher. (Click here for the direct link to this book.)

 This volume documents Prince William's life with the former Catherine Middleton from their engagement -- including the her historic engagement ring -- right through the pandemic that colored the celebration of their 10th wedding anniversary. In it, you'll find coverage of their gorgeous wedding, their international tours, the births and christenings of their three children: George, Charlotte, and Louis. Unless you've been keeping your own news clippings about the couple, this is a real addition for your Cambridge Collection. Plus, you can have it embossed with your name and/or dedicated to a friend as a gift, as I did with my review copy. And, it comes in a beautiful gift box.

In addition to specialized tomes with a broad appeal like William & Kate, Historic Newspapers offers a variety of newspaper products with headlines from historic events or from dates with personal meaning. They draw from over a century of newspapers on both sides of the pond. You can honor someone's birthday or wedding anniversary. You can also choose one of their specialized sports books for the sports fan in your life. Historic Newspapers provides a broad range of products that many of this blog's readers would enjoy and you can customize them for yourself, your friends, and your loved ones. I highly recommend both William & Kate: A Royal 10 Years specifically as well as Historic Newspapers' other services. 

06 June 2021

A New Lilibet


Queen Elizabeth II as a toddler, from the cover of Time Magazine in 1029
The original Lilbet: Princess Elizabeth of York on
the cover of Time Magazine in 1929. Today she is
better known as Queen Elizabeth II.

As the original Lilibet enjoys her twilight years, it seemed the royal nickname would soon cease to exist. Indeed, when Prince Philip died earlier this year the name was already declared dead by some media outlets. Following the deaths of her mother, sister, and husband, it was incorrectly assumed that no one remained to call Queen Elizabeth II by her lifelong nickname. The authors and editors of these articles were apparently forgetting or unaware that Her Majesty has nieces, nephews, and first cousins who have always called her Lilibet and that extended members of the family have also used the name, as demonstrated by King Felipe of Spain's published condolence to "Aunt Lilibet" on the death of his "dear Uncle Philip". (Technically, Felipe is second cousin twice removed to Philip and third cousin once removed to Elizabeth.)

Just when it looked like the name would be lost to history, The Queen's grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan resurrected it for their baby girl, naming the infant Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. The announcement, which came two days after the baby's June 4th birth in Santa Barbara, California, also revealed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex plan to call their daughter Lili. The second name honoring Harry's late mother Diana Princess of Wales surprised no one, but nearly everyone was surprised by Lilibet as a first name. In fact, this may be the first time anyone anywhere has actually used it as a given name. (If you know of anyone else actually named Lilibet, I would love to know about it.)

However, no one should be surprised that they would choose to honor Harry's grandmother. Despite a recent interview in which he indicated that he thought The Queen had been a poor parent to his father, Harry and Meghan have often spoken of their admiration for Her Majesty. The use of a nickname and an untraditional name is also not surprising. After all, the couple named their first child Archie, which is also a nickname and an untraditional royal name. (See my post, Strange Royal Baby Names.)

The name Lilibet emerged when The Queen was first learning to speak. Like all infants, she did not emerge with perfect enunciation and was unable to properly pronounce her own name. The family started calling her Lilibet after hearing her attempts to say Elizabeth. The name quickly stuck, probably because her mother was also named Elizabeth making a nickname something of a necessity in the family. By the time her little sister Margaret was born four years later, her father was writing notes "dictated by Lilibet" back to his wife. Many published examples exist of The Queen signing personal messages as Lilibet, including her condolence card to her mother on the death of her father.

Some have criticized Meghan and Harry for their unconventional name choices but it's important to note that many of The Queen's descendants have un-royal names. Her first granddaughter is named Zara. Her 11 great-grandchildren include Savannah, Isla, Mia, Lena, and Lucas. The Queen herself shook up royal naming conventions. She was the first female descendant of Queen Victoria NOT to have Victoria among her names, which are Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. She stunned many by choosing the "Scottish" name Charles for her firstborn, a child destined to be King when the only Kings named Charles in Britain were from the Scottish House of Stuart. The first King Charles was beheaded in the English Civil War. The second, his son, restored the monarchy, knew how to have raucous good time, and left many children but had no direct heirs. More controversially, "King Charles III" or Bonnie Prince Charlie sparked a rebellion against the Hanoverians to try to regain the throne that was abandoned by (or stolen from, depending on your point of view) his grandfather King James II and VII in the Glorious Revolution. The Queen even introduced a "new" name into the British Royal Family when she named her second son Prince Andrew after her father-in-law, who had been Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark. The name had not been used among British royals before that day in 1960. If The Queen can use surprising and untraditional names for her own children, it is not shocking that her children and grandchildren would, too.

The announcement of Lili's arrival did not include any reference to her title. Brother Archie's announcement specified that he would be known simply as "Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor", eschewing his right to use his father's secondary title of Earl of Dumbarton, a long-seated tradition among the Peerage. As the daughter of a Duke and as confirmed by the 1917 Letters Patent, Harry's daughter is entitled to be styled as Lady Lili. It appears, however, that she will simply be called Miss Lili Mountbatten-Windsor.

One last note: Many have incorrectly stated that it was Prince Philip who began calling his wife Lilibet as a pet name. For the record, his romantic pet name for her was Cabbage. 

Long live the Lilibets! (Both Cabbage and Baby Lili!)

As of publication time, no photos of Lili Mountbatten-Windsor have been released.

09 April 2021

Prince Philip and Women He Loved

Just two months short of his 100th birthday, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh passed away on April 9, 2021 at his home at Windsor Castle. Born a Prince of Greece and Denmark, he was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, the youngest child but only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. He was the longest-lived descendant of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (his great-great-grandmother) and of King Christian IX of Denmark (his great-grandfather) and of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (his great-great grandfather). He was the third longest-lived member of the British Royal Family, after his wife's aunt Princess Alice Duchess of Gloucester and his mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

Before he was two, in the tumult that was the Greek monarchy, his father was charged with treason and sentenced to death. His uncle, King Constantine II, was exiled (again). The British helped get Andrew's sentence commuted and sent a warship to rescue him and his family. As the story goes, an orange crate was used as an improvised cradle. After that, his parents eventually went their separate ways with his father living an essentially bachelor lifestyle and his mother undergoing psychotherapy, and for a time, being committed to an asylum. Young Philip became something like a royal foster kid, bouncing around among his much older sisters, his many royal aunts and uncles, and his maternal grandmother, Victoria Marchioness of Milford Haven, who was the older sister of the Empress Alexandra and Grand Duchess Serge of Russia, both of whom had been murdered by the Bolsheviks just a few years before Philip was born. 

Philip started school in Paris then went to Germany before being enrolled at Gordonstoun in Scotland at age 12. When he was 17, he went to the British naval academy at Dartmouth, and then joined the British Royal Navy just after the start of World War II. He served with distinction, but spent much of his leave time back in England, where his long acquaintance with a distant cousin was turning into something else.

The future Queen Elizabeth II spent her adolescence at Windsor Castle, referred to as an undisclosed location in the countryside, during the war. Philip was an occasional guest. They became penpals while both she and some members of his family hoped this would prove a royal match. After the war, Philip remained in the Royal Navy while a romance blossomed. The couple were engaged in 1947 after he surrendered his Greek titles and citizenship. With no realm surname of his own, he adopted the one used by his mother's British family: Mountbatten. For a brief time before his future father-in-law King George VI created him Duke of Edinburgh and a British Royal Highness, he was known simply as Lt. Philip Mountbatten, R.N. (Read my post about their romance The Moonstruck Princess and Her Greek God.)

Elizabeth and Philip were married at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. They spent much of their early marriage in Malta where he was posted with the Navy. By the time she unexpectedly became Queen on the early death of her father, their first two children, Charles and Anne, had been born. Her accession brought his naval career to an end, and Philip struggled for a bit trying to figure out what exactly the job of the Queen's husband was supposed to be. Within a decade, he had settled into and/or created his role leading to a more stable period in his marriage, which resulted in the births of two more children, Andrew and Edward.

He remained a loyal supporter to his wife, while adding his own stamp on things -- creating the Duke of Edinburgh awards, modernizing the royal homes and the royal operations. Along the way, he received much criticism for his sometimes brash manner or insensitive remarks, but he also received much praise for his dedication to service, to the nation, and to his wife. In November 2020, they celebrated 73 years of marriage. He is survived by his wife, four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

I had been planning a series of posts in honor of his 100th birthday focused on the Women He Loved. I am now launching the series two months too soon. Please come back to read about the women who shared Prince Philip's life, including:

Princess Alice of Battenberg, mother
Princess Victoria of Hesse, grandmother
Grand Duchess Olga Constantinova of Russia, grandmother
Princess Margarita of Greece, sister
Princess Theodora of Greece, sister
Princess Cecile of Greece, sister
Princess Sophie of Greece, sister
Princess Marie Bonaparte, aunt
Countess Nadejda de Torby, aunt
Edwina Ashley, aunt
Queen Elizabeth II, wife
Princess Anne Princess Royal, daughter
Princess Beatrice of York, granddaughter
Princess Eugenie of York, granddaughter
Zara Phillips Tindall, granddaughter
Lady Louise Windsor, granddaughter